Imagine; It's Easter Sunday and you dress your child in her Sunday best. Frilly dress, ribbons, ankle socks, patent leather Mary Janes, the whole nine. You stand back and admire your beautiful child and off to Sunday service you go feeling like a proud mama and someone says, "Wow, that's an ugly-*** kid you got there." Devastating. That's what it feels like getting a negative review on your book; your baby... http://vicihoward.blogspot.com
You will find that probably every member has the same feelings. One way to deal with it is to post something, get heard, and maybe get some feedback. What you have to do is figure out how to not let bad reviews paralyze you. I was going to say "how to ignore" but that's really impossible.
There's a great scene in Mountains of the Moon, where David Livingstone and Richard Burton compare scares. Behind the amusement is the sense that no one else could truly understand what they really meant.
That's the value of posting, to realize you're not alone.
I understand the disappointment and anger that a negative review can trigger. For that reason, I think it's important to apply a different analogy.
A published book is not like a child that we've dressed up for church on Sunday, and that someone there insensitvely called "ugly." It's much more like a child that we dressed up and entered in beauty pageant, or (to offer a more masculine parallel) dressed up in football gear and put on the field to compete with other kids.
No one forces us to publish a book. (In fact, lots of members here produce a handful of books just to share privately with friends and family, and never enable any sales channels at all.) When we make the decision to publish a book, when we actively promote it (telling people how wonderful it is), and when we ask people to spend money on it (that may have taken them a couple of hours of labor at a crappy job to earn), then we've put it in a position to be judged. We hope they like it, but it's a given that the more exposure a book gets, the greater the odds that some people who probably won't like it are going to see it and offer their assessments.
So again, I understand (and have used) the book:baby analogy -- but I think it may be more helpful to think of our self-published books as children that are competing in a tough league. They're probably going to get beat up a little now and then, but at least they're out there playing the game.
Is it feasible to respond to a review? I don't mean about the quality of writing - I've written a historical novel and might be challenged on historical accuracy. Can I respond and quote sources, etc.?
There is an expression about beating a deadhorse. It's kind of repugnant, but it does capture the essence of things. The catch, I suppose it knowing when the horse had truly expired.
I've fought my share of futile battles, and will continue, but I also know that being right is irrelevant sometimes. I'll probably keep tilting, but I know it's basically crazy.
So respond if you need to cleanse the soul, but if you're bad reviewer reallly doesn't care . . . that's that.
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IMO, responding to bad reviews or any review for that matter is just worse. The one thing published writers don't do (unless they lose it like Anne Rice and some other authors) is respond to reviewers. I have had bad and good reviews, even a review that called my book fan fiction of some other show which it is most certainly not. I could have responded and told them that it was not and give a whole explanation of how no original story premises exists so while its likely that my story has the same premise it is my own work, but what good would that do but fuel unnecessary flames. My first bad review made me question why I even bother writing, but I've learned one important thing too and it is that no one should have THAT type of power over you to determine what you do with something you love to do. I love to write and I want to share my stories with others some of them are free stories and others I charge for, if they like it, great, if not, then oh well, can't win'em all.
Personally, I prefer not to place importance on getting reviews or reading them, ignorance truly is bliss. I don't feel that there is anything to learn from bad reviews because I'm sure we all know what our flaws are as writers and try to improve anyway and heck that is what editors are for. I admit that I hate the fact that I have published books without the use of an editor because I do want to put out the best book I can and I do plan to hire one once I can afford it but even so, I could still get bad reviews so I would much rather write a story I would want to read and satisfy those who do want to read my books then run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to please people who may never decide to read another book I write ever again whether I improve to their liking or not.
I also think that responding to reviews isn't a good thing. I have read book reviews from others and I've seen the author argueing with the reviewer even. That definitely is all bad. But to me, responding to a negative review is like..."If you don't like my book, you aren't seeing it correctly. Here is WHY you are going to like it or SHOULD like it.." I consider a book to be like a dish you made for a big family gathering. It probably takes a very long time to prepare and make...some will like it and some will not. Focus on the ones that like it. Usually, from reviews that I've read, some other reader will comment on that person's negative review for you. I've just decided to keep a 'hands off' approach to reviews.
I am 100% with you. I knew to expect some bad reviews, but it kills ya a bit. I am going to go to your book and check it out. I sent ya a message. I hope things have gotten better, and don't let it get you down. Easier said than done.
Author of Billionaire Bachelors and Baby for the Billionaire Series
Wow, look at you Melody with all of your romance novels; niceeeee. How long did it take you to write all of those? Are you on goodreads.com?
Most of my reviews are nice because they're from my base; (teens). I've learned not to ask librarians to review my book. lol.
I second Lighthouse24's sentiment that the baby analogy doesn't quite hit the mark. A book is not just a product of the author, rather a reflection of him or her. Bad reviews hurt because they are talking about you, not just about some brat you raised.
I'm curious, does anyone have a rough idea of the number of book sales it takes on average to generate one review? I had a good enough week of sales last week to climb to #67,922 (print) and #34,891 (kindle) on Amazon Sales Rank last week -- not quite as impressive as it sounds because they weight recent sales so heavily -- but still have not received a single review after nearly 3 months. Is this "normal"? The books in my categories that have similar sales ranks have dozens of reviews, although they've been listed much longer and their sales ranks are more historically based.
Of course, with the week or two to receive the print-on-demand book, plus the time to read it, only the kindle peeps from the recent sales flurry would be in position to have reviewed it at this point...
I can't believe you guys are honestly analyzing my analogy. Let me have my analogy please. lol. Geeez. Its not that serious. The point is, a bad review hurts your feelings a little as if some one talked bad about your kid. That's it.
But anyway, congrats on your sales. As for getting reviews, have you tried sending your book off to bloggers in your genre? That's how I recieved my first review.
Thanks. Yeah, I've sent out a number of review copies and have one review that should come out (in a major publication) very shortly -- "Winter 2012" quarterly issue, so I'm guessing January -- and a couple more from notable journalists that haven't given me an expected timeline yet. Beyond that, most of the people I've inquired with haven't responded ... it's slow getting the ball rolling when you have to build familiarity first. I've been waiting on that step before searching out the smaller sites and bloggers, but I've got an open invitation on my site for such people to contact me for a review copy.
I was mostly curious about Amazon reviews, though, and how many sales it typically takes to generate one willing reviewer.
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(It sure would be nice if there was an easy way to attach signatures to posts in this forum software, as no one is going to look in profiles for that info. Is repeated copy and paste with every post really the only solution?)